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Dry Brushing: What You Need to Know
Your skin is a marvelous matrix of nerves, glands, vessels, protein, fatty tissue, follicles, and an assortment of specialized cells.
It might seem like it’s not doing much, but your skin is constantly performing critical functions to protect you and keep you healthy.
Like the other vital organs in our bodies, sometimes a little extra love and attention are just what it needs to perform at its peak.
Daily routines like cleansing and moisturizing are necessary for basic self-care and the general health of your skin. But beyond basic care, adding this treatment to your regimen might just jumpstart your skin’s ability to do its job even better.
And that's dry brushing.
What is Dry Brushing?
Dry brushing is a therapeutic technique that’s been practiced for ages. It’s a combination of massage and mechanical friction meant to enhance the integrity and appearance of the skin.
It’s performed with the bare bristles of a completely dry brush typically right before taking a shower.
The idea is that by stimulating the structures that reside in the skin, we can help it look and function at its best.
Ancient cultures in India, Asia, Greece and America have all had their own versions of this health and beauty ritual.
In Ayurvedic culture, skin brushing is called “Garshana” and was (and still is) performed either with a dry brush, silk gloves or a soft sponge.
Greek athletes used specialized “scrapers” after hard training to remove sweat and support muscle recovery.
Native Americans rubbed their skin with dried corn cobbs to improve its appearance and durability.
Whatever the method, it’s clear that dry brushing has been recognized as a beneficial ritual around the world for ages.
The Benefits of Dry Brushing
Dry brushing has been praised by many for its numerous benefits for our health and our skin. However, most of what we know comes from anecdotal evidence.
While scientific studies have not been done to test the efficacy of dry brushing, it’s not hard to see its potential to support our health in a variety of ways.
Especially if we consider its similarities to other therapeutic body treatments.
For example, dry brushing uses the bristles of a brush to exfoliate the skin. Most experts agree that exfoliating the skin is an effective way to remove dead skin cells and brighten your skin’s appearance.
Studies have shown that exfoliating stimulates cell turnover, giving you smoother more even-toned skin.
Another aspect of dry brushing is that it involves applying a bit of pressure to the skin, much like a massage.
And massage therapy is well-known as a highly effective manual treatment with a long list of physical and mental health benefits, including:
Reducing stress, tension, and muscle soreness
Improving circulation, mental clarity, and immune function
Lowering blood pressure and heart rate
So, what specific benefits can dry brushing provide? Some of the benefits may include:
1. Helping To Remove Toxins From Your Body
Because your skin contains vessels connected to the blood and lymphatic systems, the action of dry brushing may help your body eliminate toxins.
Blood circulation and lymphatic drainage are increased due to the stimulating effects and pressure of the brush on the skin.
This helps transport impurities more efficiently so they can be released from your body.
2. Boosting Your Immune System
Another benefit may come from stimulating the nodes of the lymphatic system.
Lymph fluid contains cells that break down bacteria, viruses, and other harmful particles to reduce your risk of infection.
By stimulating its flow into and out of the nodes, your immune system will be able to fight off infection more effectively.
3. Brightening Your Skin
The exfoliating effects of dry brushing can revive skin that looks dull and fatigued.
Sloughing away dead skin and debris from the skin’s surface reveals the healthy new cells underneath, restoring your inner glow.
Also, better circulation will allow for more essential nutrients to be delivered to your skin cells.
Your skin is then better able to repair oxidative damage, giving it a smoother appearance and allowing it to reflect more light.
4. Unclogging Pores
The mild friction caused by the dry brush gets rid of dirt, dead skin, and debris from the surface and from deep inside your pores.
This ability to cleanse and purify makes brushing fabulous for reducing breakouts in acne-prone skin, soothing inflammation, and allowing more toxins to be released through sweat.
5. Invigorating You
The massage you give yourself through dry brushing can also boost your energy level and help regulate your emotions.
Your body may feel more awake from stimulating the nerve endings in your skin, releasing endorphins, or from better circulation.
Either way, many people say they feel invigorated after brushing their skin.
6. Reducing Cellulite
Some claim dry brushing helps reduce the appearance of cellulite. It is possible that the motion of dry brushing may help to break up and mobilize fat tissue under the skin, similar to massage.
It might also have a “plumping” effect. Skin will then potentially look smoother with less of a bumpy texture, even if it only lasts a short time after the treatment.
7. Preparing Skin for Moisturizer
As with other methods of exfoliation, dry brushing leaves your skin free of debris and ready to soak up your moisturizer.
After you brush and shower, your skin will be perfectly prepped to become fully hydrated and well-nourished.
What about dry brushing your face?
Dry brushing isn’t only for your body. It’s also an excellent treatment for your face!
However, there are some differences to account for the delicate nature of your facial skin.
For one, you’ll need to use a smaller, softer brush than the one you use on your body. Look for a brush that is made specifically for use on your face.
Second, be gentle. You’ll want to use less pressure when brushing your face than you do on the rest of your body to avoid causing any irritation, redness, or inflammation.
What are the benefits of dry brushing your face?
The benefits for your face are very similar to those listed above for brushing your body.
It's believed that through increased circulation and gentle exfoliation, you'll experience fewer breakouts, better hydration, less oxidative damage, better skin tone, improved oil balance, and a more naturally radiant glow.
Incorporating this technique into your weekly skincare routine may provide you with a brighter, healthier-looking complexion that’s more resilient to the daily damage caused by the elements.
But don't overdo it! It is always better to exfoliate too little than too much. Once a week is a good place to start.
Precautions for dry brushing
As always, the information in this article is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment.
Dry brushing might not be for everyone.
You should avoid this technique if you have very sensitive skin, irritated skin, wounds or broken skin, burns or sunburns, severe acne, eczema, or other inflammatory skin conditions, or thin, fragile skin.
And be sure to check with your doctor before using this technique if you have underlying medical or skincare conditions.
Your skin should feel refreshed following a brushing session and it should never feel painful or discomforting.
What’s the best dry skin brush to use?
When choosing your body brush, you'll want one with stiff bristles, preferably made from all-natural plant fibers.
Choose a different brush for your face. You'll want one that's specifically made for the face because it will be softer and smaller.
Here are a few options with some handy features:
This full vegan set will cover all your dry brushing needs for your face and body, and isn't too expensive. It has a removable long handle and soft and firm options for different intensities.
Zen Me Premium Vegan Dry Brush
This one's also 100% vegan and eco-friendly with a detachable long handle that's slightly curved. Great for brushing your back!
This one comes with a body brush and a facial brush. Both can be used dry or wet. Made with soft horse bristles.
How to dry brush your body
Dry brushing is best done in a specific pattern to reap the full rewards. Generally, you’ll be brushing toward your heart to encourage better blood and lymph flow.
The general rule is ten strokes for each body part and it's best to do it once or twice per week.
Here are the steps for the best results:
1. Start with the bottoms of your feet in a circular motion
2. Move up your legs and brush upward with long strokes
3. Next, brush in a clockwise direction over your stomach, abdomen, and armpits
4. On your arms, work upward toward your shoulders
5. Using the long handle, brush your back in circular motions
You may need to adjust the pressure for more sensitive areas of your body. Start with less pressure the first time. You can gradually apply more as your skin becomes more tolerant.
Brushing in the morning is preferred because you’ll likely feel a surge of energy that will give you a lively start to your day.
Follow your treatment with a nice warm shower and your favorite body oil, sunscreen, or moisturizer.
How to dry brush your face
Depending on your skin type, dry brushing is safe to perform on your face once or twice a week.
That should be enough to maintain a beautifully healthy glow.
More sensitive skin types may need more time to rest between brushings.
1. Start with your neck and brush upwards toward your chin with light strokes
2. On your chin, use upward and outward strokes toward your ears
3. Use circular motions on your cheeks
4. For the upper lip area, brush from the center outward
5. Brush in circles on your nose, then up to your forehead
6. Use extra gentle circular strokes around your eyes
7. Brush outward on each side of the forehead
To sum it all up...
Dry brushing is an extra step in your skincare routine that can enhance your gorgeous complexion and give you a chance to practice some much-needed self-care.
It's an easy, inexpensive treatment you can do at home that could boost circulation, improve lymphatic drainage, and deeply cleanse your skin.
It's also a great way to pamper yourself. When performed properly, your skin will not only look amazing, but may function better too.
Why not give it a try?